Recruiting young athletes from the grassroots has paid off for Philippine sports, which need homegrown talents to show the world that the country could be capable of playing with the big boys given support by the government and the private sector.
Carlos “Caloy” Yulo of the Philippines debuted in spectacular fashion in the tough 2016 Pacific Rim Gymnastic Championships over the weekend against a strong boys division that included powerhouse Japan.
The men’s and women’s division in these championships, seen as a curtain raiser to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, were bannered by reigning world gymnastics queen Simone Biles.
Biles also over the weekend blew the opposition, winning the all-around title in a performance that reportedly should serve as a warning to her Rio rivals.
She is aiming to defend the same title that she won in the 2012 London Olympiad.
Yulo, 15, won the gold medals in the floor exercise and the horse vault and bagged the silver medals in the parallel bars and the rings on his way to the bronze medal in the individual all-around at the XFINITY Arena in Everett, Washington.
The teenager won the gold medal in the floor exercise with 14.800 points, finishing ahead of Japan’s Ryosuke Doi (14.150 points) and Jose David Toro (13.525 points) of Colombia.
Another Filipino entry, John Matthew Vergara landed in eighth place with 12.300 points.
In the horse vault, Yulo finished with 14.850 points to ease out Taiwan’s Alan Siao (14.400 points) and Kanta Amaro (14.150 points) of Japan.
He ended up second in the rings with 13.525 points to trail behind Amaro (13.950 points).
In the parallel bars, Yulo (13.650 points) was pipped by another Japanese, Kosuke Wakasa (13.750).
He bagged 12.850 points in the high bar (baras to your neighbor¬hood wannabe gymnast) to finish fourth in the event.
Two Japanese, Ryoto Sato (82.000 points) and Wakasa (81.550 points) won the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the all-around event, relegating Yulo to third place with 81.200 points.
Already considered a bright prospect for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, Yulo is a proud product of the Palarong Pambansa, the current edition of which is being hosted by Legazpi City in Bicol’s Albay province.
His achievements at age 15 is proof that the Palarong Pambansa, which features the best young talents from the country’s public and private schools,
could be a realistic source of homegrown sporting talents.
That not to take anything away from Filipinos one of whose parent is a foreigner because they have all the right to represent the country of their father or mother.
But Yulo is also proof that even with admittedly modest gymnastics equipment, compared to the most modern apparatuses that are within easy reach of his Japanese, Chinese and Western counterparts, talent will out.
We wish Caloy all the good luck in his journey to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics!